Friday, 1 June 2018
‘Holy grail’ of blood tests can detect 10 types of cancer
Doctors could soon be able to detect 10 different types of cancer using a simple blood test.
The “holy grail” of cancer tests could pave the way for a universal screening program that could save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Experts say the simple check allows early diagnosis when survival chances are higher.
It works by pinpointing DNA that has broken free of a tumor.
The test was administered on 749 cancer-free patients and 878 with newly diagnosed but untreated cancer.
It can currently detect ovarian, pancreatic, liver, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, colorectal, esophageal, lung, head and neck, and breast cancers, but it works best for ovarian and pancreatic forms of the disease.
The “comprehensive” test identified 90 percent of ovarian cancers and 80 percent of pancreatic and liver cancers.
It picked out four in five liver tumors, 58 percent of breast cancers and 59 percent of lung cancers.
Experts say it could be available in hospitals within a few years and is likely to cost between $660 and $1,300 each time.
Study leader Dr. Eric Klein from the Cleveland Clinic, said: “This blood test detected multiple cancers at various stages with high specificity, indicating this approach is promising as a multi-cancer screening test.
“It gives us the opportunity to find cancers months or years before someone would develop symptoms and be diagnosed.
“It is potentially the Holy Grail of cancer research – to find cancers that are currently hard to cure at an earlier stage when they are easier to cure.
“This test could be used for everybody, regardless of their family history.
“More research is needed but it could be given to healthy adults of a certain age, such as those over 40, to see if they have early signs of cancer.”
Professor Nicholas Turner, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, described the findings as “really exciting.”
“Far too many cancers are picked up too late, when it is no longer possible to operate and the chances of survival and slim,” he said.
“The goal is to develop a blood test, such as this one, that can accurately identify cancers in their earliest stages.
“This particular test is really exciting but it is likely to be a few years before it is ready for clinical use.
“When this test, or another like it, are ready for clinical use, it could be used as part of a universal screening program, with the potential to save many lives.”
Fiona Osgun, from Cancer Research UK, added: “The idea that we could one day offer people a blood test that could find cancer earlier is certainly exciting.
“Detecting cancer early, before it has spread is one of the most powerful ways to ensure more people are offered treatments which give them a better chance of beating the disease.”
Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service in England, said: “We stand on the cusp of a new era of personalized medicine that will dramatically transform care for cancer and for inherited and rare diseases.
“In particular, new techniques for precision early diagnosis would unlock enormous survival gains, as well as dramatic productivity benefits in the practice of medicine.”The findings were presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.